A big hug for struggling parents

Big Group Hug director Angela Wood and co-director Geraldine Camilleri.

By Evelyn Leckie

WHEN Angela Wood witnessed women doing it tough in her neighbourhood – she decided to start up an organisation that donates baby and parenting goods to disadvantaged families.

“I started losing sleep thinking about articles I’d read about pregnant asylum seekers in Australia sleeping on floors and even seeing women in my neighbourhood struggling,” Ms Wood said.

“A few of my friends were throwing out good quality prams and pre-loved baby items and I thought – there must be a way to get these items to women in need.”

Prams and baby items started overflowing Ms Wood’s home, which led her to start the Big Group Hug organisation.

More donations started flowing in, filling up a large warehouse in Melbourne’s north.

“We work through a referral service. If a department, social worker, school or hospital contacts us to help a family out – we source and donate items to that family,” Ms Wood said.

The organisation grew with up to 200 volunteers assisting.

“We have such incredible volunteers, our team is phenomenal. I have an 80-year-old volunteer who always comes in to help and has tirelessly put in hour after hour at the warehouse,” Ms Wood said.

“The City of Whittlesea have donated so much to help our organisation, and we’re so thankful they’ve really rallied the community to bring in volunteers.”

Ms Wood said to coincide with Mother’s Day her team would start a viral dance video challenge to help raise funds for the organisation.

“We’re getting the dads and kids together to make up a dance with their kids while setting up a fundraising page – any family members willing to access the video has to donate – the more dads we have participating the more giggles we’ll be getting,” Ms Wood said.

To donate or find out more information about the Big Group Hug, visit www.biggrouphug.org